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Dark formations

posted on 2023-06-07, 21:22 authored by Ed HughesEd Hughes, David Chandler
Dark Formations is an audiovisual project that brings together archival photography, film, sound and contemporary music to explore and reflect on the intensive Allied bombing of German cities in the final years of World War II. The project is a collaboration between David Chandler, Professor of Photography at Plymouth, and Ed Hughes, composer and Senior Lecturer in Music at Sussex. A short, introductory piece, establishing the identity of the project through a montage of still photographs set to a newly composed musical score, was performed live at King's Place, London on 27 September, 2010 to a capacity audience. Photographs, films and audio recordings from the Imperial War Museum archive transcend their function (as documentation) to become artefacts which resonate with the intensity of the conditions they document, but also appear strangely removed from those conditions, with dramatic and abstracted effects of light and sound, creating powerful and unsettlingly beautiful images of the war. We have found in our preliminary work that the musical response negotiates a tension between the formal concerns of the piece, and the intensely subjective evocation of the experience of war caused by the presentation of these photographs in a time-based sequence. This tension is the concern of our practice-led enquiry. The music composed in the first phase of the project was slow and ritualised, with dark, muted, often vibrato-less and mechanistic instrumental sounds matching the gradual unfolding and revealing of photographic stills. The electronics contributed complex showers of piano notes which echoed the spectacular effects of light caught in the camera. Research status with the Imperial War Museum research committee has been sought and obtained, and the further development of this project will enable exploration of archive audio material, and, we hope, the time to integrate this material into the musical patterns of the piece - as well as developing ways to extend it through further contrast and new approaches to audiovisual counterpoint. 12'; for flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, horn, piano, violin, cello, live delay and spatialising effect


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University of York Music Press

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Audiovisual project devised by Ed Hughes (composer) with Professor David Chandler (Professor of Photography, University of Plymouth) in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum Archives. A preliminary version received a live performance at Kings Place, London, on 27 September 2010. The project has since been accorded research status by the research committee of the Imperial War Museum. Prof Chandler and I are using the opportunity of further access accorded by this decision to develop a more extended exhibition version for 2013. Score: : ISMN M 57036 355 1 Parts: ISMN M 57036 356 8

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